The Second Letter

The Second Letter

Postby Niabh » Mon Aug 21, 2017 10:10 am

The seal this time was a flat wooden disc pierced edge to edge with a slim channel, a loop of narrow pink ribbon threaded through the holes. The disc had been rubbed with lime to turn it ash-white, and each face bore the carved mirror-image of a swan with an elongated, looping throat. Their sleek calla-lily heads were turned in profile; their half-lidded eyes were at once sleepy and arrogant, as if they were pleased in being admired. It appeared she was more skilled with a knife point than with drawing flowers in ink.

It might take a moment to find the trick: when the disc spun between its ribbons, the images merged into two swans tangled together by their own madly intertwined necks, both sharp beaks aimed to plunge into its twin’s breast.


Dear One,

You should receive this letter only a little before I return to Myrken. If my raven is as careless as he was with your last letter, I might even beat it there. Did you get the last one at all? I hope you did, as it was a lovely long one, though I might have gotten a little foolish with it. If you did not, I will find a way to make it up to you. If all goes well, I should be back around the time of the next full moon.

All in all, I both do and do not like this style of travelling. It is nice to wander, and not be driven by the need to keep up or be in any place in particular, to go exploring when something seems interesting over yonder, and to rest whenever one wants. But then, too, it is pleasant to know something familiar awaits one at the end of the path, and to know where and what it is. I suppose you are that thing for me in Myrken. I wonder all the places you have been, and what you have seen. Did you have anyone waiting for you there? Do you have any place you would like to be again? (This is what I meant by getting foolish, I fear—I ask lots of very silly questions.)

I want to tell you another secret: I have caught myself, once or twice, thinking of returning to Myrken as coming home. Is that not odd? To say “coming to the place where I left all my things” is too brusque and dismissive, and “going back” sounds too much as if there is nothing to look forward to. In being away for a time, I find
do look forward to it—in part to see you again, of course, and in part because I do not trust them not to put iron shoes on Tarnyak, no matter how much I threatened them against it, and in part because I fear this summer heat will cause my roof to collapse, but mostly it is because now, a little, I have a place there. I have people who expect me. It is people who make a home, more than a place. It is easy to feel carefree and invincible in the summertime, but in winter, it is good to feel safe and wanted. I have always felt that people were somehow kinder to one another in the winter, because they see winter as an army that takes no prisoners, and they must all band together against it. At any rate, I try to be kinder in winter. Do you remember last winter when we played in the snow, and your snowball missed me and hit Tarnyak? I hope you do. That is a very dear memory to me.

But let’s not bring winter on early by speaking of it. We have this last piece of summer still before us, and all autumn ahead. I cannot even rightly say I miss you anymore, because I am too happy in knowing we will see each other soon. I will not even apologize that this letter is so short, for the less time spent writing it, the sooner you will have it in hand.

As ever, I hope this finds you well.

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